Just to let you know- this blog is no longer active. I'll be keeping up my 101 in 1001 list until its completion, but will not be writing new posts. You can read the post below if you want the long version. Thanks for the journey to all my friends in the blogosphere!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

How I Became a Warrior and a Biggest Loser in 1 Week: Part 1

Yeah, SueMac said it best with "Welcome back.... Goodbye.... I'll be seeing you?"

I'm not sure if I'm coming or going blog-wise. I just don't seem to be able to fit it in right now.

I did want to quickly tell you about my 2 quirky races this month: the Warrior Dash and the Biggest Loser 5K Endurance Challenge.

Two weekends ago, I flew up to New York for the weekend to see my best friend who's working on her PhD up there and we decided to round out our time together with a 3.23 mile romp through 13 obstacles. In other words, we wanted to be warriors.

Of course, warriors need weapons (obtained through the Halloween section of Target), warrior paint, black nail polish, and a waterproof disposable camera (for documentation, of course) . We considered going all out with complete warrior outfits, but when you have swords, that pretty much covers it.

There were several waves that started throughout the day so we saw the groups in front of us start and finish.

You can't really tell in this picture, but it was ridiculously steep. We were running up a ski slope, for goodness sake. I heard some of the runners who had gone early talk about walking up and kinda thought they were wimps, but after starting out strong for about 3 minutes or so, Sarah and I were definitely walking. I felt soooo out of shape, but it just straight up! Everyone except the really speedy people at the front were walking, so I made peace with it.

It was really crowded, but it started to thin out by the time we got to the first couple obstacles (running through tires and scaling walls). I'm so glad I read Heather's tip about bringing along a camera because it was fun to goof off and grab pictures as we scrambled through tunnels and through "uncharted forests." (The path was actually pretty clearly marked.) Wading through chest-high, chilly, muddy water was actually pretty fun and refreshing after getting up that mountain.

None of the obstacles were really all that extreme and definitely none of them were as difficult as just getting up the hill to begin with. It was a little scary running downhill because it was slick, muddy, and steep and we were a little bit worried about our ankles.

Near the end was the BIG obstacle, the "Warrior Roast." I have been looking forward to leaping over these flames for months! We had to go down this crude slip-n-slide that ended in a slightly gravely mud pit to get good and saturated before reaching the fire. Instead of passing the camera back and forth to get pictures like we did for the other obstacles, we decided to just leap together and trust the professional photographers for this one.
The last obstacle was crawling under barbed wire (that just happened to be suspended over a huge puddle). I've probably climbed under more fences than 95% of these participants so this was no biggie. Even with the sword.

We then celebrated with our warrior helmets, turkey legs, and warrior festivities! It was such a fun race and I highly recommend participating with costumes, friends, the camera, and no regard for your finishing time!

I thought I could squeeze 2 race reports into 1 post, but I think this one's gone on long enough, so I just slapped a "Part 1" into the title and will leave off here. You'll have to check back next time to hear about me getting to run next to Bob Harper in my next race!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Quick Explanation

Things are pretty ridiculously non-stop right now.

I've never had a problem with being busy. I've always managed to max out whatever schedule I'm working with and that's always been fine. In high school, I would go from school, to pick up my sisters, to sports practice, to drop off my sisters, to music lessons, to pick up my sisters...it was not unusual to drive 100 miles in a day. In college, I was the one that begged my department head into signing a waiver that allowed me to take a 23 hour semester instead of the maximum 20 hours. I never worried about "burning the candle at both ends" or "having too much on my plate." I pretty much thought I could handle whatever was flung my way.

Four years ago, when I was fresh out of college and got my first teaching job, I was rudely awakened to how mistaken I was. Being responsible for the academic, emotional, and social rearing of a class of fifth graders was by far the most difficult thing I had ever undertaken.

(Sidenote: I obviously understand the importance of parents in educating their own children. When they are actively and positively involved, almost any child flourishes. Fortunately, right now, I have a class of children with wonderful, supportive, and caring parents- and it's clearly evident through their respect for themselves and others, their academic levels, and their work ethic. When that parent support is lacking, however, the responsibility, and the blame, falls swiftly upon the teacher.)

It wasn't just how much work there was to be done. (At the beginning of the school year, I woke up at 4:30, worked on school work at home until 6 am, went to school, stayed until 6 pm, and took work home to continue until I went to bed. ) It was the overwhelming stress- worrying about my students, myself as a teacher, feeling like I would never catch up or be good enough. I quickly associated that stress with being a "real adult" and despaired that I would feel that way the rest of my life.

Thankfully, I was on my running streak at that time, because otherwise I would have stopped running altogether. Most days, it was only a mile- sometimes in the dark, going in loops around my house, but I continued my streak I had started in the prior spring, running each day until February. Running kept me afloat during that time. I lived hours from anyone I knew and even though I talked daily to my boyfriend (now husband, friends and family, they couldn't be right there with me. No matter what happened during the day, I could always lace up my shoes, put in the iPod, and disappear from my own reality for a little while.

After that first year, I got married and moved. I was at a different school, in a different grade, and had that first experience under my belt. I still felt that crushing daily stress though and wondered, not if it would pass, but just if I could adjust to it. I kept plowing on though, and that summer I started working on my masters and training for my first marathon.

Last school year was such a blessing because I finally felt like I was hitting my stride. Even with the challenge of a combination class, I started to love more days than I dreaded, and juggled my grad school and house work in the evenings. There was still stress, but more than that, this feeling of guilt started creeping in- "Why am I not cooking beautiful meals on a regular basis? Why do we STILL not have pictures up on all the walls? Why am I still not in the running shape I want to be in?" I started to worry if I didn't have these things together now, would I ever? I love reading other women's blogs, but I started to feel so inferior- how could they manage it all (and post pictures of it too)?! Especially those who have children! If I didn't have my ducks in a row now, it certainly wouldn't be happening when I was responsible for more little lives.

This past summer, I decided to take a little blog break, and I feel like I've had a little space and time to gain some perspective. A new school year has started, and though teaching will always be busy and a little stressful, I LOVE it. I love my 24 babies who rely on me to guide them and teach them, day in and day, out for 180 days. I love getting them excited about learning and the world around them. I love seeing their faces light up when they do something they thought they couldn't. Even in those moments where there is temporary chaos or frustration (think computer lab with 17 working computers, 24 kids, and a fuzzy internet connection when you're trying to access an online activity), I can't help but think how lucky I am to be in charge of these little kids and how empty my days would be without them.

I'm usually at school early, and leave late, but I feel, for the most part, that I've got things under control. At home, I'm glued to my laptop working on grad school or freelance web design, catching up on laundry/dishes/home basics, or helping my husband as he keeps his own busy-level up with a full-time job and a part-time job. I'm running just a little bit and getting a small dose of TV and facebook as I multi-task, but that's pretty much it right now.

I finally feel a little release of the guilt and stress though, because I can see an end in sight. This will not be my reality forever. In January, my husband will just be working on one job. God willing (and I pray that he is, because I'm going to need his help with this one), I will finish my thesis and grad school classes this spring and graduate in May. I am ridiculously excited about having a more "normal" life starting next summer and realize that I'll have time then to start working on those extra things- getting my house just like I want it, organizing my recipes, training for a big race.

It wasn't my intent to make this the most ridiculously long blog post ever! (Which is why I CANNOT be trusted to blog regularly right now...I make it take too much time.) I just felt the need to explain myself a little. I may be poking back around here to post some race reports (I have some short races coming up that I'm really jazzed up about-Warrior Dash in New York next weekend and Biggest Loser 5K in Myrtle Beach on the 25th- and I may or may not be running a marathon late this fall or winter. My mom and I ran the 15 mile Take the Lake last weekend and I felt pretty good until the last few miles, so if I get more serious about it, I could pull out 26.2 in a few months.), and sometime I need to do a review of my Nathan water fuel belt I've been using this summer (short version: LOVE it, don't know how I've gone so long without one.).

I seriously doubt I'll be able to resist posting about the Warrior Dash, so I'll be back soon! Good luck with everyone's fall training!